Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong

In Tomasz Bigaj Christian Wuthrich (ed.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities (forthcoming)
Abstract
Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reflecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I start by considering a notorious problematic associated with special science entities---namely, the problem of higher-level causation. I then argue that, of the various strategies for addressing this problem, there are two and only two which plausibly accommodate both the dependence and the ontological and causal autonomy of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schema for metaphysical emergence, which I call 'Weak' and 'Strong' emergence, respectively. Each schema imposes a condition on the powers of (features of) entities taken to be emergent, relative to the powers of (features of) their dependence base entities: Strong emergence (at odds with physicalism, given the physical acceptability of the base entities/features) requires that a higher-level feature have, on an occasion, a token power not had by the dependence base feature on that occasion, while Weak emergence (associated with non-reductive physicalism) requires that a higher-level feature have, on an occasion, a proper subset of the token powers had by the dependence base feature on that occasion. (Note: the latter "proper subset" approach to non-reductive realization is sometimes incorrectly called "Shoemaker's" proper subset account, following his 2000 paper, 'Realization and Mental Causation'; incorrectly, since my 1999 Phil Quarterly paper, 'How Superduper Does a Physicalist Supervenience Need to Be?, was the first published statement and defence of the approach.) Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically almost entirely neutral, primarily reflecting commitment just to the plausible thesis that what causes an entity may---perhaps only contingently---bring about are associated with how the entity is---that is, with its features.) I go on to consider the main accounts of emergent dependence and emergent autonomy, showing how, properly understood and (in some cases) disambiguated, these aim to instantiate one or the other schema.
Keywords Emergence  Metaphysics  fundamentality  grounding  physicalism  British Emergentists  realization  degrees of freedom  determinable/determinate relation  subset realization
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